Firefighting Goats (and other Livestock Too!)

Fire prevention in the WUI (Wildland Urban Interface) can be a delicate and sometimes complicated process. Residents may have concerns about prescribed fire, and its perceived or real risks, as well as the potential for reductions in air quality. Using fire in the WUI can be a challenge due to those risks. Furthermore, other solutions, may also be less than desirable for residents. Applying herbicides, for instance, may raise the concerns of the community, while mechanical thinning may be expensive and difficult, especially in hard to reach places. That's where Kathy Voth comes in. Her work with goat herds to reduce and prevent wildfire provides another option for fuel managers. Goats naturally and cheaply do with gusto, what humans have set up enormous and costly infrastructures to deal with—namely manage fire-suppressed wildlands to prevent damage to homes, wildlife and wildlands, and people. Goats vigorously eat fire prone vegetation like oakbrush, while trampling parts of the area to bare dirt—such areas treated by goats can stop a fire cold. In certain situations, goats may be able to save money, while creating new and effective ways of managing fire-prone landscapes. Voth's project began when she met Joel G

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One thought on “Firefighting Goats (and other Livestock Too!)

  1. Kathy,

    Your story is telling. The tool of prescribed grazing for wildfire risk reduction has proven effective in dozens of anecdotal instances. BUT, the resistance to a programmatic approach to reduce fuel loads continues.

    I worked in this area from 2000 thru 2006, partly due to the groundbreaking work of you and others.

    Today, pretty much everyone is out of that business, except for a few urban weedeaters who can get “cute” value media and some high dollars for a very short period of time.

    Right now, there aren’t enough goats to keep California, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, etc., from regularly burning up — buy there could be.

    What are your thoughts on building a consortium of producers/service providers to approach this issue from a programmatic landscape scale to get ahead of the wildfire spiral, especially in light of climate change.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to spout. What you are doing with this newsletter is awesome.

    Jeff Rola

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